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Maglev vehicles and superconductor technology: Integration of high-speed ground transportation into the air travel system

Description: This study was undertaken to (1) evaluate the potential contribution of high-temperature superconductors (HTSCs) to the technical and economic feasibility of magnetically levitated (maglev) vehicles, (2) determine the status of maglev transportation research in the United States and abroad, (3) identify the likelihood of a significant transportation market for high-speed maglev vehicles, and (4) provide a preliminary assessment of the potential energy and economic benefits of maglev systems. HTSCs should be considered as an enhancing, rather than an enabling, development for maglev transportation because they should improve reliability and reduce energy and maintenance costs. Superconducting maglev transportation technologies were developed in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Federal support was withdrawn in 1975, but major maglev transportation programs were continued in Japan and West Germany, where full-scale prototypes now carry passengers at speeds of 250 mi/h in demonstration runs. Maglev systems are generally viewed as very-high-speed train systems, but this study shows that the potential market for maglev technology as a train system, e.g., from one downtown to another, is limited. Rather, aircraft and maglev vehicles should be seen as complementing rather than competing transportation systems. If maglev systems were integrated into major hub airport operations, they could become economical in many relatively high-density US corridors. Air traffic congestion and associated noise and pollutant emissions around airports would also be reduced. 68 refs., 26 figs., 16 tabs.
Date: April 1, 1989
Creator: Johnson, L.R.; Rote, D.M.; Hull, J.R.; Coffey, H.T.; Daley, J.G. & Giese, R.F.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department